America The Beautiful and Good
Recently I have spent time remembering what it was like to grow up in Spokane, Washington in the 1950’s and early 60’s. I recalled going to church every Sunday, pledging allegiance to the flag every Monday, taking a gun safety class before getting my first shotgun. Back then it felt like someone in everyone’s family had been in some branch of the military. We all at least knew someone who knew someone who had died for our country. Neighbors naturally looked out for neighbors.
I am grateful for those times and that experience. It was then and there I learned and developed a set of beliefs – of values – a code of conduct – and aspirations. They were connected to my love of God, country, family, community and self.
We’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go. One of the more disturbing things for me now is how the current President appears so often to happily distort all of the beliefs I grew up with, how he embodies none of the values, disregards every code of conduct, and selfishly uses every aspiration to further his own self-interest. He does this while wrapping himself in the flag and embracing the God of Judgment instead of Love.
Leave it to music to put a face on what I feel as I share these things. The face is that of Ray Charles singing “America The Beautiful” with its familiar if anachronistic refrain. “America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown Thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” The words that stick out for me at the moment are America the Beautiful, America the Good, an America that asks to be granted God’s Grace.